Appeals—USA—Q&A guide

The following Dispute Resolution practice note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Appeals—USA—Q&A guide
  • 1. Outline and explain the general structure of your country’s court system as it relates to the commercial appellate process.
  • 2. Are there appellate courts that hear only civil matters?
  • 3. Are appeals from administrative tribunals handled in the same way as appeals from trial courts?
  • 4. Is there a separate appellate bar or other requirement for attorneys to be admitted before appellate courts?
  • 5. If separate jurisdictions exist for particular territorial subdivisions or subject matters, explain their main differences as to commercial appeals.
  • 6. What are the deadlines for filing an appeal in a commercial matter?
  • 7. What are the key steps a litigant must take to commence an appeal?
  • 8. How is the documentation for appeals prepared?
  • 9. In commercial matters, may litigants appeal by right or is appellate review discretionary?
  • More...

Appeals—USA—Q&A guide

This Practice Note contains a jurisdiction-specific Q&A guide to appeals in USA published as part of the Lexology Getting the Deal Through series by Law Business Research (published: March 2021).

Authors: Gibson Dunn & Crutcher LLP—Mark A. Perry; Perlette Michèle Jura

1. Outline and explain the general structure of your country’s court system as it relates to the commercial appellate process.

At the federal (national) level, the United States has a three-level court system.

  1. The courts of first instance are called district courts; there are 94 judicial districts across the country and its territories, with at least one district in each state. A district court case is presided over by a district judge, with or without a jury.

  2. Commercial cases in district court are appealable as a matter of right to a court of appeals; there are 12 regional circuit courts. Appeals are ordinarily heard by a panel of three circuit judges.

  3. The Supreme Court has discretionary authority to review cases from other federal courts. The Supreme Court has nine justices, all of whom typically participate in every case accepted for review.

According to statistics compiled by the federal judiciary, 49,044 appeals were commenced in the federal system from July 2019 to June 2020, of which 21,783 were in non-prisoner civil and administrative cases. During that time, the regional courts of appeals issued 31,236 opinions or orders

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